Positive Ambition

Ambition is a strong desire to do, or to achieve something. Many
people just 'think about it' and that desire then turns into just another fantasy.

by Michael Corthell

Ambition is not a dirty word, but it can be a 'good or bad' thing depending on who has this strong desire to achieve, because it is personality based. If a person is good, and has a positive attitude toward life and people, all will be well. If not, then negative results will ensue.

''Everyone endeavors as much as possible to make others love
what he loves, and to hate what he hates''

 —Benedict de Spinoza

Ambition is a trait or disposition, and is often confused by many with aspiration which is goal setting or reaching for an objective. Ambition is persistent and pervasive, and a person can't alter this trait any more than he can alter any other character trait. A truly ambitious person, having achieved one goal, soon starts plan another and will strive toward it.

Ambition is very often spoken of in the same context as hope, as in ''she has hopes and ambitions to be a Senator''. Hope is the want and desire for something to happen in addition to the anticipation of it happening. Ambition rather, is the desire for achievement, or distinction combined with the willingness to strive for its achievement. Ambition, therefore, is more about self and self-reliance than hope.

Ambition is sometimes looked at as a form of greed. But that is a false comparison, because greed is the excessive desire for more than is needed or deserved. However, the overly ambitious can find life frustrating if they are impatient or have an excessive fear of failure. As in all things the middle ground must be found and all with positivity.

''Courage is the first of human qualities because
it is the quality which guarantees the others.''


Aristotle had very reasonable approach toward ambition. In Nicomachean Ethics, he says that virtues are a disposed toward aiming at the intermediate, mean, or sort of an average between excess and deficit, which, unlike too much or too little, is a form of success and worthy of high regard. An analogy:  The person who runs headlong into every type of danger is foolish, and he who runs from every questionable situation is a coward, but courage is defined by the intermediate position (the mean). Aristotle opinion is that it is possible to fail in many ways, but it is only possible to succeed in one way. That is why failing is so easy and success so difficult to achieve.

Traits that the Ambitious share:
  • They set goals but don’t SHARE them.
  • They are willing to take RISKS.
  • They expose themselves to NEW WAYS of thinking.
  • They are focused on DOING.
  • They don’t compete with OTHER PEOPLE.
  • They Surround themselves with OTHER AMBITIOUS people.
Summing up, ambition, like most things has a duality, it is a ''double edged sword''. It can be very good when tempered with positive goodness and goals or it can be negative, grossly unjust and evil. Looking at positive and ambitious people, most achieve higher levels of education, have better, more satisfying jobs, and have a higher income than the population average.

Common sense tells us that positive ambition will lead to more life satisfaction and indeed a longer, happier life.


About Ambition

by Lea Webb

In her TEDx talk, Councilwoman Lea Webb shares her personal experience with AMBITION, sharing how she was called to lead in her community, and in doing so, re-imagined leadership to reflect the needs of women and society.

Lea Webb is an award-winning activist, working to bridge the gap between local, state, and federal government to bring positive change in her community. She was the first, and youngest, African American ever elected to her city's governing body.